Suspended Hawkins attorney receives a new public censure

Jeff Bobo • Jan 19, 2018 at 8:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County attorney and occasional substitute judge John Anderson’s six year law license suspension imposed in 2015 remains intact, but earlier this month he received a new public censure for rules violations that occurred prior to his suspension.

According to a Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility report, a client hired Anderson to represent her in a car accident case, and although Anderson filed a lawsuit, he did not serve process on the defendant in a timely manner.

For three years, Anderson falsely told his client he was in the process of trying to settle the case, during which time the lawsuit was dismissed by the court.

As a result, the TBPR found Anderson in violation of its rules pertaining to competence, diligence, communication, termination of representation, expediting litigation, disciplinary matters, conduct involving dishonesty and prejudice to the administration of justice.

The TBPR stated in its report that because Anderson has received prior public discipline for similar conduct during the same time period, he is hereby publicly censured for these violations. A public censure is a rebuke and warning to an attorney, but it does not affect the attorney’s law license status.

Anderson’s six year law license suspension was imposed Dec. 22, 2015 and was the result of a variety of violations including ignoring clients and lying to clients and the court.

Anderson, who has been licensed to practice law in Tennessee since 1987, was also ordered to pay $17,968 in restitution to a total of 14 clients.

The suspension was the result of two TBPR cases.

In the first case, filed Nov. 25, 2013, Anderson agreed to a suspension of one year and payment of restitution for two clients.

A TBPR hearing panel found that Anderson failed to act with reasonable diligence and promptness; failed to obtain written waivers from former clients regarding a conflict of interest; failed to reasonably communicate with his clients; made false statements and material misrepresentations to the court and his clients; and engaged in misconduct involving dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentations.

Anderson submitted a conditional guilty plea admitting a violation of Rules of Professional Conduct related to diligence, communication, duties to former clients, candor toward the tribunal and misconduct.

In the second case, filed April 25, 2014, Anderson agreed to a suspension of five consecutive years and payment of restitution to 12 clients.

The TBPR determined that Anderson failed to represent his clients in a diligent and/or competent manner, failed to perform legal work for which he was hired, engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while temporarily suspended, failed to safeguard client property and made misrepresentations to his clients about the status of their cases.

Anderson submitted a conditional guilty plea admitting violations related to scope of representation, diligence, communication, fees, former judge or arbitrator, safekeeping of property and funds, terminating representation, meritorious claims and contentions, expediting litigation, candor toward the tribunal, fairness to opposing party and counsel, responsibilities regarding non-lawyer assistants, unauthorized practice of law, bar admission and disciplinary matters and misconduct.

He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement 90 days prior to the end of his suspension, which is Dec. 22, 2021.

Kingsport Times News Videos